Farleigh joins Foxhills on the Surrey golf map
PUBLISHED: 17:04 09 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:52 20 February 2013
On the stunning North Downs of Surrey, new life has been breathed into a 350-acre estate by the owners of the renowned hotel, spa and golf course, Foxhills in Ottershaw.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2012
On the stunning North Downs of Surrey, new life has been breathed into a 350-acre estate by the owners of the renowned hotel, spa and golf course, Foxhills in Ottershaw. With top quality golf and leisure facilities soon to be joined by a destination restaurant, owner Marc Hayton reveals their exciting plans for Farleigh
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What attracted you to Farleigh in the first place?
After a record year at Foxhills, I wanted to experience what my dad felt 28 years ago when he first set eyes on Foxhills. To look past its flaws and see only its potential. Dad joked how there were eight kinds of carpet just in the Manor lounge at Foxhills when he first found it. Perhaps the Farleigh equivalent was the carpet in the gents toilet. Dont ask!
Dad knew about Farleigh, but never saw it. Shortly after he passed away, mum asked if I was sure the acquisition was the right thing to do. The conversation ended with her support secured: On one condition, she added, that you make Farleigh fun.
And it is. Even in these early, slightly haphazard days.
Its been all change since you took over the club. Has the work achieved what youd hoped?
Our 5m investment is well underway and finishes in early spring. We are lucky that Farleigh has become so quickly accepted into the local community. While Farleigh will be run separately from Foxhills, it will be similar in two ways: families and non-golfers will be as welcome as members and it will be at the heart of the community.
and is there anything you are particularly proud of?
Inviting the original golf architects John Jacobs Associates the brains behind Wentworths Edinburgh Course back to finish the job they started in 1994. Some 550,000 later, they have transformed it into a brand new championship golf course open to all.
I am personally very proud of the talented team that the acquisition of Farleigh has attracted: general manager Andy Callister from Virgin Active Health Clubs; course manager Michael Mann, formally of West Hill and Wentworth, supported by his deputy Robin Cheney, formally of Celtic Manor Resorts; and our brand new food and beverage manager Lindsay Lovegrove, formally of Chesterfield in Mayfair and the Royal Garden in Kensington.
Tell us about your plans to transform Farleigh into a gastro chic destination?
We enlisted the talented design team at Design LSM, fresh from their award-winning execution of Londons Galvin La Chapelle restaurant and refurbishment of the runnymede-on-thames hotel. With their help, spring 2012 will see the unveiling of our destination restaurant, Nineteen, alongside our new clubhouse, shop and function rooms.
Your sister club at Foxhills is renowned nationwide; do you envisage a time when Farleigh is talked about in the same breath?
Whilst Farleigh is a very different brand, it will become a perfect complement to its historic mother ship Foxhills. With Farleigh targeting the London traffic just out of reach of Foxhills, we are now able to give our guests the best of both worlds with a choice of the country retreat at Foxhills and the city haven on the cusp of central London at Farleigh.
Of course, the clientele at the mother ship is also often as well known as the venue itself
Yes, and we are on the cusp of big things at Farleigh too, despite it still being in its development stages the courses will all be finished in May and the clubhouse refurbishment finished late April. Farleigh has fast become well known for its standard of championship golf and has been lucky enough to host John Salakos Celebrity Golf Day. We have also been visited by the beautiful celebrity golfer and model Sophie Horn, not to mention the mayor of Croydon, Cllr Graham Bass; East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah; and Tandridge District Council chairman Brian Perkins.
At the age of 11, professional golfer Paul Casey received a scholarship from the Foxhills Golf Foundation are you planning on running a similar scheme at Farleigh?
Early summer 2012 will see Farleigh launch its Golf Foundation. Over the years, the Golf Foundation at Foxhills has been a phenomenal success. The fact that nine of our graduates are now professionals shows just how beneficial the foundation can be; provided you are willing to work hard and make the most of the opportunity. Each year, scholars will be selected on merit giving them access to full golf membership until their 18th birthday, with a full monthly calendar of dedicated coaching to help develop their skills.
As a sponsor of the Warlingham Fair, are events like that important to the Farleigh philosophy?
Farleighs ethos is: fun, quality and community. It was important when acquiring Farleigh that we considered our neighbours; we want our guests to feel that the club is theirs. Last month saw the opening of our function rooms and each will be up for grabs by local charities and organisations. They will have the room dedicated to their cause and, when the room is not in use, they will have the space to use for meetings and fund-raising activities. Farleigh will also offer support in publicising their charity via our website and members.
Whats the most interesting story youve discovered about the area or Farleighs history?
As well as the course architects being John Jacobs Associates, Charles Darwin lived just five miles from Farleigh as the crow flies at Down House where he conducted some of his most profound work. Also, the Woodlands Trust tells us that Farleigh is one of the largest areas of chalk grassland in Surrey and they were extremely excited to discover that this grassland is home to Britains smallest butterfly, the extremely rare Small Blue.
Finally, what does 2012 have in store at Farleigh?
This year will see the final phase of the developments, starting in early spring with the championship nine-hole course reopening. This will be closely followed by the last phase of the clubhouse transformation, featuring a brand new shop, gastro restaurant, Champagne bar and the kids zone, which includes a golf simulator with a state of the art cinema screen and the latest games perfect for big kids and little kids alike. Expect plenty of celebrations!
- Farleigh, Farleigh Common, Farleigh CR6 9PE. See www.farleighfox.co.uk, call 01883 627711 or e-mail email@example.com.